1 9 9 2 – 1 9 9 3 (UK)
156 x 30 minute episodes
Launched with the promise of “sun, sand, sangria and sex” this thrice-weekly soap opera from the BBC ran for only one year, from 6 July 1992 to 9 July 1993, before being prematurely cancelled due to poor ratings.
Set in the fictional fishing village of Los Barcos on the Costa del Sol in Spain and based around the lives of British and European expats, the series was created by EastEnders masterminds Julia Smith and Tony Holland, and cost the BBC £10 million – which included building a village production lot in a pine forest 10-miles north-east of Marbella.
The community’s mother figure was Gwen Lockhead (Patricia Blake), a teacher who ran the English-language newspaper. Her husband Drew (Campbell Morrison) was a lazy, hard-drinking Glaswegian.
Most of the Los Barcos residents were walking clichés – teenage tearaway Lockhead, worried mum Lockhead, alcoholic dad Lockhead, disabled daughter Lockhead, poor man’s baddie Marcus Tandy – all oddly at variance with the exotic locale.
Brothers Gavin and Allan Hindle ran the beach bar, Joy Slater (Leslee Udwin) owned the wine bar, Snowy White (Patch Connolly) was the local handyman, and Trish Valentine (Polly Perkins) was the ageing nightclub singer who enjoyed a stormy relationship with Dieter Schultz (Kai Maurer), a 19-year-old German windsurfing teacher.
The French were represented by tennis coach Philippe Leduc (Daniel Lombart), his flirty wife, Isabelle (Framboise Gommendy), and their romantic 16-year-old son, Arnaud (Mikael Philippe). The Svendsen family offered the Danish input. Dad Per (Kim Romer) ran a chandlery business, mum Lene (Nanna Moller) was a beautician and their 14-year-old daughter was called Trine.
Completing the multicultural lineup of locals were Swedish tour guide Ingrid Olsson (Bo Corre) and a handful of local Spaniards, mostly from the Fernandez family.
Unfortunately, the majority of the cast were chosen on the basis of who looked good in underwear and swimsuits with little regard for their actual acting ability.
Even the location was poorly exploited, with many characters barely stepping out of doors.
The series lasted just 156 episodes before being axed. It ended as implausibly as it began, with one of the main characters, Marcus Tandy (Jesse Birdsall,) escaping an attempt on his life with his car being blown up, and sailing off into the distance on a boat, with his girlfriend Pilar.
Eldorado remains the biggest British television flop and became a byword for failure following its year on the airwaves.
Today, the purpose-built site near Marbella lies abandoned but preserved by the heat and the dry mountain air. The site was briefly used as a holiday camp but that suffered the same fate as the programme.